Friend was an "investigator" for the Georgia Commission on Education, a state agency whose purpose was to preserve segregated public schools in Georgia.
Friend attended a Labor Day 1957 seminar at Highlander Folk School and took pictures of MLK Jr “attending a Communist training school”. Subsequently, Friend testified before the Florida Legislative Committee about the “subversive” aspects of what he discovered at HFS (Monteagle TN). For detailed report concerning Highlander Folk School and Edwin Friend's role in characterizing HFS as a "Communist Training School", see:
Atlanta 80-1138, #3 (9/30/67 SAC Atlanta to JEH, page 1:
“Friend was not interviewed in view of his reported close association with Calvin F. Craig, Grand Dragon UKA, Realm of GA, and with Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard UKA. The files of the Atlanta office reflect that in 1941 Friend was interviewed for position of photographer with the Bureau. He was not offered this position as he was unwilling to travel to Washington for acceptance of such a position. In May of 1962, (name deleted) reported that on 5/7/62 (name deleted), Robert Shelton, and (name deleted) all of whom are Klansmen, Shelton the Imperial Wizard, and (name deleted but might be Calvin Craig), Realm of GA, proceeded to the Georgia State Capitol where they contacted a photographer named Ed Friend. “
Pg 2: “Friend then took Craig, Shelton, and (name deleted) into Attorney General Eugene Cook’s office at the State Capitol. The conversation that ensued related to the coming elections, the County Unit system, and school segregation."
"In October 1957, Ed Friend was described as an undercover agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and in this capacity had covered an assignment at Monteagle TN Labor Day 1957. Friend…subsequently testified before the Georgia Education Commission 10/4/57 regarding inter-racial meetings held at the Highlander Folk School, Monteagle TN and also the attendance of certain CP functionaries at this conference.”
“In March of 1960 (name deleted) reported that Ed Friend was in touch with Calvin F. Craig and asked to borrow a Klan robe from him so that the daughter of the Attorney General, Eugene Cook…could use the Klan robe in conjunction with some school activity.”
Pg 2-3: “In September 1960, the Klan proposed a rally at Stone Mountain GA for 9/24/60 and during the planning stages Calvin F. Craig indicated he would have Ed Friend take pictures at this function. In view of the above cited close association on the part of Friend with the Ku Klux Klan Calvin F. Craig, and Robert Shelton, leaders in the Klan, it is considered inadvisable to interview Ed Friend, as if the opportunity presents itself, he will capitalize on any contacts had with the FBI.”